Greece to 'hire undercover army of tourist and student tax spies'

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis arrives to present his ministry's new secretaries at a press conference in Athens on March 4, 2015 (AFP Photo/Louisa Gouliamaki)

Athens (AFP) - The Greek government plans to hire an army of amateur tax sleuths -- including tourists -- in a bid to fill the gaping hole in the country's finances, according to an embarrassing leak published Friday.

The document, which purports to list the seven major reforms Athens will present at a crunch meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels on Monday, claimed these "casual onlookers" could be equipped with hidden cameras and recording devices to catch businesses dodging tax.

"The culture of tax avoidance runs deep within Greek society," the leak published by the Financial Times said.

"Tax authorities are not only understaffed but immersed in the logic of book-checking when the real problem lies off the books," it went on.

Athens' new fraud-busters would be hired "on a strictly short-term casual basis -- no longer than two months and without any prospect of being rehired," it added.

The leak, a copy of a letter apparently sent by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said those "students, housekeepers even tourists" recruited would be given minimal training as their presence on the streets would be deterrent enough.

It also claimed that Varoufakis argued that this undercover army could go where traditional tax inspectors were unable to tread, making a "serious dent" in VAT fraud "that typifies nightclubs and medical services".

The document, of which AFP has obtained a copy in Greek, also includes a series of innovative measures to streamline and digitise Greek bureaucracy, making it more user-friendly and forcing public officials to be more pro-active, as well as raising revenue from online gaming.

But it was the idea for part-time tax inspectors that set Greek social media buzzing.

"What we need of in Greece is law, competence and efficiency, not spying 'onlookers'," complained @damanthj.